SPS 2016 Applications Workshop

Report by Evan Peters SPS chapter President

Randy Milstein talks about NASA
Randy Milstein talks about NASA and the Oregon Space Grant

OSU’s Society of Physics Students chapter held an applications workshop on Saturday (11/19), where students got excited about summer internships, scholarships, and graduate school admissions. Beginning at 11:00 am, over twenty physics and science students passed through during the six-hour event to grab a snack and get to work.

Application frenzy
Application frenzy

Supported by unlimited coffee and a pizza lunch provided by OSU SPS, students began the morning by sifting through lists of REUs and scholarships compiled by the chapter.

Delicious food.
Delicious food.

As the afternoon came around, invited presenters arrived and shared their insights and experiences with students. Dr. Sujaya Rao, director of undergraduate research at OSU, discussed the URSA research program and ways to put together a stellar application. Dr. Randy Milstein from the Oregon Space Grant Consortium office discussed internship and scholarship programs at NASA and OSGC, and shared bios of OSU students who had been successful in the past. Finally, Dr. Janet Tate discussed career professionalism and how to get the most out of interactions with professors and professionals.

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Janet Tate talks about professionalism.

The workshop was successful in raising lower-division students’ awareness of research opportunities and getting students to think ahead about career-building opportunities—we hope to hold another one in the future!

 

Steven Ellefson graduated from Oregon State University in 2014 with a B.S. in

Physics Alumnus Steven Ellefson with with the ViewRay (the world’s first MRI-guided radiation therapy system) and the ArcCHECK-MR (a diode array used for radiation dosimetry measurements of complex therapy plans) that he worked on for his dissertation at UW Madison.
Physics Alumnus Steven Ellefson with with the ViewRay (the world’s first MRI-guided radiation therapy system) and the ArcCHECK-MR (a diode array used for radiation dosimetry measurements of complex therapy plans) that he worked on for his dissertation at UW Madison.

Radiation Health Physics and a minor in Physics. While at OSU, Steven did computational radiation physics research with Dr. Todd Palmer in the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering, completed a summer internship in medical physics at the Samaritan Regional Cancer Center, and was awarded the School’s Lower Division and Upper Division Student of the Year Awards in consecutive years.

After graduation, Steven went on to the Medical Physics graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he focused on the physics of radiation therapy. As a graduate student, Steven researched issues with using the ArcCHECK, a commercial silicon diode array widely used for radiation dosimetry of complex radiation therapy plans, for dosimetry on the ViewRay, the world’s first MRI-guided radiation therapy system. His research on the anomalous behavior of the ArcCHECK device under the influence of the ViewRay’s large magnetic field was presented at the annual conference for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in 2015 and is currently under review for publication in the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics.

Steven graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with his M.S. in Medical Physics and, through a competitive application process, was chosen for the Medical Physics Residency Program at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, which he is currently attending.

Steven says the fundamental problem-solving skills and ability to think outside the box developed in the Physics program at OSU were essential to his success.

He points out some special courses here.

“K.C. Walsh and the general calculus-based physics sequence: Dr. Walsh made the fundamental concepts so easy to grasp and his enthusiasm is contagious. He was able to simultaneously encourage and challenge me to be a better physicist. He was also always willing to talk about interesting extracurricular physics problems and even try to work them out if a student requested (such as why a motorcyclist will turn into or away from a corner depending on the speed).

“Dr. Tevian Dray and Vector Calculus II: I feel that I did not truly understand calculus until I took Tevian’s class. Taking his class made a collection of seemingly unrelated facts about calculus learned in previous courses coalesce into a singular paradigm in my brain. I am very thankful for his dedication to helping physicists and engineers understand vector calculus and the integral (no pun intended) role it plays in describing the physical world.”

“Dr. Corinne Manogue: While Corinne is amazing at teaching, what I remember most is her encouragement of students. She truly tries to bring out the best in students and challenges them to be better than they think they can be. I will never forget her telling us all before a final that our performance on the test does not determine our value as human beings.”

“Last but not least, Dr. David Roundy’s computational physics course was a great preparation for graduate school. So many problems are approached with computers today that being able to translate theories/models into a computer program ended up being an essential skill for me.”

 

Prof. Bo Sun and student Amani Alobaidi’s work on 3-D tumor modeling technology has been highlighted in an article in Advantage-Impact.

DIGME discoids shaping the growth of tumor cells.
DIGME diskoids shaping the growth of tumor cells. (full caption in article below)

Here is the full article

DIGME shapes better cancer therapies

A new 3-D tumor modeling technology could drastically change the way cancer is treated. Diskoid In Geometrically Micropatterned Extracellular matrix (DIGME) is a tissue-patterning solution that uses a low-cost device to control the shape of tumors — as well as the directionality and rigidity of their surrounding matrix — to stop cancer cells from spreading.

Bo Sun, an assistant professor of physics in Oregon State’s College of Science, says DIGME will help doctors test their own cancer treatments and create new ones. And it could even improve the efficiency of early cancer detection.

“Right now, cancer detection is relying on techniques that were developed decades ago,” Sun says. “I think tumor modeling is going to show us the new things we should look at. There may be a different set of metrics that make the accuracy and sensitivity of early detection much better.”

Sun’s device can facilitate development of new cancer treatments by better mimicking the physiological condition of tumors. Oregon State University has filed for a patent and is looking for potential licensees and research collaborators to further develop the technique.

Understanding how cancer cells spread

In order for a cancer cell to dissociate from the main tumor and spread — also known as metastasis — it must dig a hole through the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is the area that surrounds a tumor, which is made up of connective tissues like collagen. It can act as a barrier to keep tumor cells in or out, depending on its porousness.

For example, an ECM that is very porous provides a soft environment for cancer cells to easily squeeze through and enter other areas of the body. An ECM that is very rigid, on the other hand, provides a barricade that is very difficult for a cancer cell to dig into. However, a rigid ECM also promotes tumor growth; therefore the relationship between ECM and cancer is anything but simple. This relationship is one of the central problems of cancer research.

Modeling tumors

Sun’s team worked with standard cancer cell lines in the lab. To shape a tumor, a micro-fabricated stamp is used to create a mold made of collagen. Tumor cells are then suspended in a collagen solution and poured into the mold. The liquid collagen turns into a gel and links to the mold. The device can precisely control the location and rotation of the stamp, creating an exact shape.

Different tumor shapes equal different clinical outcomes for patients, Sun explains. If a tumor has very high curvature corners, these sharp corners are more likely to become cancer stem cells, which are very invasive and lead to metastasis.

Changing directions

Directionality is an equally important factor. The ECM — which is covered in polymer fibers — can be rotated with the help of DIGME technology. When the ECM is polarized — or given positive and negative charges — the orientation of those fibers can be rotated circularly, preventing additional cancer cells from disconnecting and spreading throughout the body. Controlling the shape and directionality allows DIGME to create challenging environments for cancer cells, testing their adaptability and understanding how they respond to treatments in complex physiological conditions.

“A tumor — no matter where it starts — is going to experience many different environments when it metastasizes into many parts of the body,” Sun says. “If a cell has no way to adapt to this new environment, it is going to stop there and won’t be able to spread.”

Sun’s research began with the goal of determining how tumors migrate and communicate with one another. Two-and-a-half years later, DIGME has the potential to help save lives.

For licensing information, please contact Jianbo Hu at jianbo.hu@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-2366.

This figure shows a breast cancer cell.

(A) DIGME consists of a diskoid – a tumor cell aggregate whose shape is tightly controlled. The example shown in A is a hexagonal diskoid of monolayer thickness. Typical diskoid thickness can range from one to five cell layers. (B) A triangle diskoid of MDA-MD-231 cells (green) in collagen matrix (labeled with fluorescent particles, blue). Top: top view. Bottom: side view. (C) A MDA-MD-231 diskoid (green) surrounded by two layers of collagen matrix with different concentrations (1.5 mg/ml, red and 3 mg/ml, blue). Top inset: the diskoid invasion into the surrounding ECM after five days. Bottom inset: confocal reflection imaging showing distinct fiber microstructures across the interface of two collagen layers. (D) A MDA-MB-231 ring diskoid with its sounding ECM circularly polarized. The configuration mimics the ductal carcinoma in vivo. Scale bars: 200 μm.

Andrew Stickel wearing a Swedish Doctoral hat.
Andrew Stickel wearing a Swedish Doctoral hat.

On University day, our own Andrew Stickel will receive the University wide Herbert F. Frolander Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant!

University Day is Monday, September 19th and there will be an awards ceremony at the LaSells Center.

Andrew recently defended his dissertation “Terahertz Induced Non-linear Electron Dynamics in Nanoantenna Coated Semiconductors at the Sub-picosecond Timescale”. Please congratulate him on both of these accomplishments!

Scientists from the Physics Department visited the first grade classes (about 100 students) at Clover Ridge Elementary School. Atul Chhotray and Davide Lazzati used solar telescopes to give students an introduction to astronomy. Nicole Quist, Jacob Bigelow and Ethan Minot used an assortment of interactive demos to explain the amazing things we can do with air. From pushing a sail boat with giant air molecules, to floating on a hover craft. Nicole: “Raise your hands if you want to say something.” Student: “That was awesome!”

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Hiral Patel and Kyle Vogt are Physics Ph.D. students in the Graham Lab.  Both contributed to a major conference called CLEO in San Jose (4,600 attendees) that is sponsored by APS, OSA and IEEE.  Kyle presented his paper as a talk.   Hiral’s poster received the highest traffic and the most votes, and the Optical Society of America awarded her the “Outstanding Student Poster Presentation Award” from the OSA Optical Material Studies Technical Group.

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The Department of Physics is proud to announce that four undergraduate students are recipients of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Science (SURE Science) Scholarships. Jeremy Meinke will be working in Prof. Weihong Qiu’s Lab to determine how OsKCH2 –a nanometer-sized biological motor protein– moves on the filamentous microtubule track using high precision single-molecule microscopy. Mirek Brandt and Ikaika Mckeague-McFadden will be working in Prof. Matt Graham’s Lab on the novel electronic and optical properties of two-dimensional and organic materials. Katelyn Chase will be working in Prof. Bo Sun’s lab to develop microfludics endothelium-on-chips devices for studying the collective endothelium shear stress sensing during embryo development. Many thanks to the College of Science and to the scholarship donors that made theses full-time summer-Science research scholarships possible.

On March 5th, the Department hosted 22 girls from Oregon middle schools who were taking part in the “Discovering the Scientist Within” Workshop (http://oregonstate.edu/dept/cosey/dsw) .

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The students came to the free half-day workshop to learn about the wide range of career options for women in science, technology, engineering and math. 100 girls chose from a range of activities (physics was one option) hosted across campus. Through hands-on activities, they find out what it’s like to work in different careers. Participants have a chance to interact with professional women who work in a variety of fields. And they have a chance to meet other girls who share their interests.

Many thanks to the OSU students, staff and faculty (Liz Gire) who shared their time and enthusiasm with the girls.

The Physics Outreach team visited Hoover Elementary School on Thursday March 3rd. 160 kids came with their parents to play with our physics demonstrations and ride the physics hover craft. Each child left with a pair of “rainbow diffraction glass”, pictured below.

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Here are some photos of OSU grad students (Lee Aspitarte and Jay Howard), and undergrad (Ryan Bailey-Crandell) explaining physics at the event:

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Many thanks to all the OSU student volunteers: Lee Aspitarte, Ryan Bailey-Crandell, Jake Bigelow, Morgan Brown, Jay Howard, and MacKenzie Lenz. Faculty/Staff volunteers Clarissa Amundsen, Ethan Minot and Jim Ketter.

To learn more about Physics Department Outreach Events visit our outreach webpage. If you are interested in volunteering to help with outreach events, please contact Ethan Minot.

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100

 

hovercraft here

There was a buzz of excitement amongst the kids lined up underneath the sign “hover craft here”. The OSU Physics road show was at Periwinkle Elementary School in Albany to be part of the school’s annual “Family Science Night” on Thursday Feb 25th.

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As kids lined up to ride the hovercraft, they enjoyed physic demos on two tables. They learned how to make their own hovercraft using an old cd, a balloon and a bottle cap. They tried out rainbow diffraction glasses that turn white light into a rainbow of colors. They used a hair drier to levitate a ping pong ball, and then used the same hair drier to lift up a 1kg weight. “Wow!”

200 kids brought their families to interact with our exhibits. All the kids went home with their own pair of rainbow diffraction glasses and stories about their hovercraft adventure.

Many thanks to OSU student volunteers: Jay Howard, Kelby Peterson, Evan Peters, MacKenzie Lenz, and James Haggerty. Faculty volunteers Heidi Schellman and Ethan Minot. And Physics Staff Jim Ketter and Clarissa Amundsen.

To learn more about Physics Department Outreach Events visit our outreach webpage. If you are interested in volunteering to help with outreach events, please contact Ethan Minot.